Where: Egmont USA
When: September 6th, 2011
Why: Premise Love
How: For Review (BEA)
It could happen tomorrow...
A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed." Can one teen really survive on her own?
An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...
Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.
This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive
This is one of those books where I just feel like saying: BUY IT. IT'S AMAZING. JUST DO IT. But alas, I must elaborate, right?
Ashes is beautiful, riveting, heart-breaking, and everything a post-apocalyptic should be plus 100 more doses of amazing. It's the story of Alex trying to survive after a major event causes people to start becoming zombies (and i'm not talking boring zombies here, people! I'm talking flesh-eating, scary ass EVOLVING zombies). Ilsa doesn't shy away from putting her characters in awful situations, and I love her for it. She pulls out all the stops and absolutely no character is safe when it comes to her world. They all have to make sacrifices to survive and sometimes even die trying. You're never sure who's safe and who isn't, and you'll constantly be needing to turn the page just to see who's lucky enough to survive.
Alex is one amazing heroine. She's gone through so much in her life and this journey is anything but easy. She makes sacrifices and has a patience I can't even imagine, especially with Ellie. I would've smacked that kid once or twice for all the times she screams at Alex. And still, she refuses to leave Ellie behind, and I completely admire her for it. She's headstrong and doesn't let anything get in her way, whether it's the zombies or even her own mind. Ellie was a seriously bratty child (and I know you may say: hell, she's scared but that's no excuse for how awful she was sometimes) and Tom was beautiful. Isla writes with such a raw, beautiful grace that doesn't try to make everything end perfectly, which I loved and hated. Loved because it was so amazing in it's execution but hated because you will become so attached to all the characters, you won't be able to believe some of them die.
Romance isn't the focal point in the book, and I actually appreciated it (and for me, the sap of all saps, this is saying something). Yes, it's there but this isn't a story about a love trying to survive, it's simply people, normal, scared people who have been thrown into this insanity and are just trying to get out of it unscathed. Ilsa has a Stephen-King like approach to horror, and doesn't try to cover up the gore with flowery prose. Yet at the same time, it's subtle and not something that'll be making you cringe and want to put the book away.
Overall, an absolutely breathtaking story that i'll definitely be rereading again and again. This is what books should aspire to be: solid world-building, amazing and realistic characters that'll have you attached within pages, and completely gorgeous writing. A must-read.